Warm Brownie Batter
I realized, when I signed up for yoga teacher training classes that I would journey further down this chosen path, and most likely step outside of my comfort zone. I imagined achieving little triumphs over personal challenging obstacles, like public speaking, and acceptance of humility. I anticipated that there would be blunders and stumbles as I refined my teaching practice and employed new skills–like a wobbly baby learning to walk.
I expected a journey into new language, new social circles, as well as a deeper knowledge (while just scratching the surface) of the ancient science of yoga. What I didn’t expect was the deep inner voyage I was plunged into and the possibility of travel-actual global travel!
No form of therapy, either physical or psychological has taken me to this level of self-exploration. No coaching session has ever convinced me to overcome my fear of flying, fear of being far away my kids and my home to take trips even in the states, and suddenly I’m making plans for a lengthy trip to Indonesia!
The significant shift in my life showed up in my dreams as an old recurring nightmare reemerged. In the dream I am called by “God” to defy gravity and fly. At first I struggle to attain freedom from gravity by furiously paddling my hands in the air–A frantic and exhausting doggie paddle. After great effort my feet eventually lift and I am hovering just inches above the ground. After a while my flight becomes smooth. I learn to glide and soar effortlessly over the rooftop of my house, venturing over the familiar crest of Braddock Mountain, then diving down into the valley to get a glimpse of the city of Frederick from this airborne perspective. I know every street and alley and eventually I grow bored. I crave adventure so I catch a thermal, and gain altitude to search for something that glimmers and sparkles. On the horizon are thousands of shimmering lights, pulsating and glowing. I feel the flutter of excitement in my heart but when I can’t decide quickly enough on a direction, I lose control and I get sucked up into some crazy violent vortex. Spinning and tumbling through darkness, the light flutter of excitement has transformed into paralyzing fear, which grips my heart with sharp icy cold talons.
I felt like I needed some professional guidance to navigate the uncharted territories my body, mind and spirit were suddenly exploring.
While practical advice is often an important first step in becoming grounded, I began to feel boxed in-limited somehow with a traditional therapeutic approach. Being anchored into the earth was fine. Being tethered by a short rope was not. Just as in my dream state, in real life I felt called to explore a realm where those thousands of pulsating shimmering lights dwelled. I knew where to find a guide to explore that realm.
“Have a seat Kerri.” My guide Rose Ma, gestured with a graceful wave of her hand toward the sofa in the cozy little nook behind the yoga room at the The Unschool of Yoga studio. I sat down, crossed legged with bare feet the way I always wanted to sit in my traditional therapy sessions but felt it would have been extremely inappropriate to do so. Even though I craved deeper exploration I began my session with my standard list of complaints. But Rose Ma doesn’t seem capable of spending time and energy at a superficial level and immediately brought my awareness below my story line. As she splayed her hands, gesturing toward my heart the little bells on her sari sounded like raindrops falling onto delicate sheets of crystal.
“What are you feeling inside?” She asked her hands still splayed open near my chest. Her gesture fostered a sense of safety. As I explored deep inner feelings, I believed she would have caught my heart in her hands, held it as it ached, caressed it as it broke, and supported it until it started to heal.
I closed my eyes and went “inside”- right to my heart space, which was rather easy to envision after an intense 20 hour weekend class of anatomy and physiology. “What am I feeling?” I silently asked myself. When I knew the feeling I opened one eye. Rose Ma was still supporting my heart with her hand mudra. She raised her eyebrows and gave an encouraging little closed mouth smile. Her wordless expression said “Well???”
I opened both eyes and put both hands over my own heart at which point Rose Ma released her hands. They fluttered to her lap accompanied by the tingling of crystal sounding bells. “I don’t have words for it.” I said and smiled because I did have words, I was just too embarrassed to say them.
“Try.” Rose Ma encouraged.
I hesitated and looked around the room, still holding my hands on my heart. I glanced at the flowing silk tapestries adorning the walls. I studied an antique cabinet. Behind the cabinet’s glass doors, wavy from the effects of gravity and time, were hundreds of little bottles of what I suspected were essential oils. My eyes searched the ceiling and focused on the dust particles dancing in the sunlight streaming in from the sky lights. Finally my eyes landed on Rose Ma’s face. She was sipping her tea and waiting patiently for my reply.
“Okay, it feels like…” I kept one hand on my heart and took the other one off in order to demonstrate the movement I felt inside. My free hand circled and subtly waved, it undulated like the hand of a musical conductor leading a harp solo. “It feels like warm brownie batter.” I finally blurted out.
Rose Ma choked a little on her tea then threw her head back and laughed. “…and that’s the sweetness, the essence of who you are.” She said while still grinning.
I was instructed to “stay in this sweetness” as I was challenged through a series of tests. Negative phrases and self-doubts I had habitually recited my whole life were hurled at me while I stayed connected to this sweet warm batter.
The sensation in my heart flowed nonstop, just like my thoughts only quieter. Unlike my thoughts that branch out and can become a tangled mass of prickly vines, in the heart there was an eternally flowing circular quality. The sensation was never dull or stagnate, yet it was unchanging and constant. This quality was anchored in what I can only think to identify as truth.
Staying in the “warm brownie batter space” I was unaffected by my own harsh judgments which would normally grip my heart like the icy talons in my nightmare.
Rather than being handed mind numbing pills I was prescribed to stay in constant awareness of that warm brownie batter. I attended my weekend classes, with one hand on my heart most of the time, and found myself connecting with others on a deeper level. My mind quieted so the incessant chatter (mostly judgments about myself and others) became just background noise. With the noise subdued, my mind was free from the thorny vines created by worry and fear and there was space to ingest and digest the heavy information offered in our nonstop teaching weekend.
On Sunday night after class I came home and instead of preparing dinner I mixed a batch of brownies. My family was confused by my peculiar entrée choice, but no one complained.
Warm Brownie Batter